"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Culture and Nature: Animals Gone Wild

Our friend and fellow classical liberal Ilana Mercer has a very interesting and well-argued article in today's American Spectator, on how a powerful and widely held cultural idea has actually changed the natural world, and for the worse. Mercer points out that the often laudable effort over the past couple of centuries to discourage mankind from harming animals has had an awful unintended consequence: many animal species are losing their fear of human beings and are increasingly attacking humans.

Mercer argues:
While Western man works to rid himself of the most basic ethical instincts, like defending his kinfolk, animals remain true to their nature. Wild beasts intuit that their teeth and talons are meant for tearing flesh -- any flesh, the easier the better. It makes perfect animal sense to attack a thing that is docile, slow, and passive, like the not-so sapient Homo sapiens.

It has been decades since animals were aggressively repelled from human habitat, and they now brazenly make themselves at home in manicured suburbs. It used to be that men killed and hunted encroaching creatures. Thanks to decades of cultural and legal emasculation, they no longer have the urge or license to protect home and hearth. Instead, they robotically intone the Sierra Club's subliminal propaganda: animals are the true homesteaders of the planet.

The handful of honest experts left admits that attacks are up because politically correct policies have bred fearless critters. The Pavlovian response to aversive treatment has been bred out of the wild animal population. Mary Zeiss Stange, author of Woman the Hunter, says that hunting ultimately has less to do with killing than with instilling fear in animals that have placed us on their menu. If animal rights activists possessed a dog's smarts, they'd understand the perils of such a program, for an unafraid animal is a dangerous animal; an unafraid human an endangered fool.
Certainly we should never be cruel to animals, Mercer agrees, but killing animals is part of our human condition, and in an attempt to become hypercivilized and suppress the parts of our nature that our intellects consider less savory, we become in fact less than fully human and upset the balance of nature:
This wildlife worship is thoroughly antediluvian, down to its human sacrifice component. Human beings should care for and be kind to animals. That's ethical (if not compulsory). But people's safety and survival must always trump that of animals. A society that reverses this ethical order is philosophically primitive, base, and ultimately immoral.

"Arm yourself with knowledge when you go out into the wilderness," advised one guru, following yet another perennial, ritual, human sacrifice to the Goddess Gaia. Wrong: apply your knowledge and arm yourself!
Good advice from a very wise woman.

From Karnick on Culture.

1 comment:

S. T. Karnick said...

Here's a comment from Ilana Mercer:

Dear Sam,

About my “Animals Gone Wild” (http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=10716) you wrote the following:

“…but killing animals is part of our human condition, and in an attempt to become hypercivilized and suppress the parts of our nature that our intellects consider less savory, we become in fact less than fully human and upset the balance of nature.”

As always, you raise points I’ve not begun to consider, but will now have to now. Bother! (g) However, I do believe you misconstrued my argument (probably because I did not clarify it sufficiently.)

My argument was not anti-intellectual. (To me, intellectualism is the best, highest condition of man.) Au Contraire. We become anti-intellectual when we worship Gaia and its creatures, which is what the article alludes to.

Humanity and its well-being must always trump that of animals. What I describe in my column is a consequence of Rousseauist perversions, which are all anti-intellectual, and go against man’s Best Nature.

So no, this is not about being close to our often base, natural human condition, which is what your counterpoint implied. Rather, “Animals Gone Wild” exhorts that we elevate ourselves, once again, by revering human life above all. The worship of Gaia and its critters, if anything, is removed from human nature; it’s “antediluvian,” primitive, and ultimately anti-man.

Fond regards,
—ILANA
www.ilanamercer.com